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Steve Watson provides recruitment update

By Dan Simmonite | 6th August 2020

Alex Kempster and David Ferguson have rejected new deals with York City and have left the club upon the expiration of their contracts. 

The pair were offered new and improved terms to stay with the club, but have opted to sign contracts elsewhere. 

Kempster has departed for South Shields whereas Ferguson has left with ambitions to play at a higher level with Hartlepool United.

Steve Watson spoke on the Kempster move: “Alex is doing what’s right for him. Shields are a very good club in that league with a very good chance of being promoted again. He wouldn’t be able to go to a team in our league with as much ambition and scope to go forward as us. 

“I didn’t see it coming but that’s football. If players decide they want to be elsewhere then you have to let them get on with it. I don’t want anyone here who doesn’t want to be playing for York. 

“Alex has made big strides in two years and York is a big club with a big pressure behind it and maybe he thought this was the best step for him to enjoy his football. 

"For me personally he has been one of the bright lights since I got here, he’s a great lad to work with and with players like that you have to wish him all the best and we move on.” 

The gaffer also spoke on the departure of David Ferguson, who has been a mainstay on the left side of defense after signing from Darlington in 2017. 

Watson said: “He wants to play as high as he can and it’s a lot easier to take when a player says that to you. Ultimately you always want your players to be ambitious and play at the highest level they can and I doubt with Fergy it’s even financial. 

“All the players we have given contracts to have been improved contract offers. 

“Fergy’s was a good contract offer and so was Alex’s but they have both chosen to go elsewhere. He just wants to play higher and there's a certain amount of me that respects him for that. 

“They have both conducted themselves brilliantly, given me and the club everything since I’ve been here. I don’t think we will face either of them in the league next season and as I said before we move on.” 

Eight players are currently contracted to the club, of which are Pete Jameson and Sean Newton, both of whom made the Vanarama National League North Team of the Season. 

Discussing the current squad, Watson said: “Newts has gone through a process where he has proved to me how mentally strong he is, stood up when he has had tough times at the club and never wanted to leave and always wanted to play under me and Micky and be at York. 

“Between Pete, Newts and Fergy – there are others who had really good spells – but I think over the duration they were consistently excellent all season. The other lads signed are what we are looking to do going forward; trying to get a young, fit squad with a bit of longevity in it. 

“There will be players that by the end of this week we are hoping to announce and I think it will be a new way forward for the club. 

“York is a big club at this level. I think getting a new set of players in with a fearless attitude of playing for York might invigorate us.” 

Watson also spoke about the defensive setup of the team. Last campaign the Minstermen had the second-best defensive record in the division, but this season Watson will put more emphasis on scoring goals from all areas as well as being solid at the back. 

“It’s difficult when you inherit around nine players and four of them are strikers. The easiest thing to start with last year was to be solid [at the back],” added Watson. 

“We took the chance on Dan Maguire to be a full-time footballer and it was a little bit of a gamble and we didn’t think it would be as difficult as it was –none of us did – even himself. 

“The forwards thing is something which I can now totally commit to now and get my own ideas about how we can improve the overall goal scoring ability of the team because I think that is all we lacked last season. 

“You can’t just go to strikers for goals. They are usually the main source of goals but they need to be chipped in from everywhere – if we can 10 more goals from midfield then I think we would have had seven or eight more points and that would have been more than enough. 

“I do look to be solid to start a game off with but looking at my recruitment this summer it’s going to be based towards much more of a goal threat from all departments.” 

Kieran Green is still in discussions with the club, and the management team are hopeful of retaining his services and helping the 23-year-old develop as a player. 

“I’ve spoken to him on a number of occasions at length and I’ve said that we believe the best place for him is with us at York but like good young players do, they've had people whispering in their ear – it's not really a scenario that should happen but it does happen unfortunately in football,” added Watson. 

“He is torn between two or three options. At the moment we have given him a very good offer for his age and for what he’s done so far and certainly in this league he won't be at a better club for his development. 

“There is only so long we can hold out for players until we have to look to replace them. He’s as strong as an ox and he’s exactly the type of player we want going forward.” 

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